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Dr Ernst Becker (1826-88)

Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-73) 30 Jun 1854

Salted paper print | 14.1 x 11.1 cm (image) | RCIN 2906531

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Winterhalter was Queen Victoria’s principal portrait painter and he is seen here posing for his fellow countryman Ernst Becker, Prince Albert’s Librarian. Before the end of the 1850s photography had been practised by a relatively small number of people and having a portrait taken ‘from life’ was for most an uncommon experience. In this photograph, taken at Buckingham Palace during one of his numerous visits to Britain, the artist seems to experiment with his pose – while his stance is reminiscent of portraiture by artists such as Batoni and Reynolds, his gaze is unconventionally directed beyond the camera, which has been set by Becker at a deliberately low angle.